Dear Here Comes The Guide: My fiance and I are considering a destination wedding somewhere in California. We aren’t sure what the expectations are in terms of covering the costs of our guests. Also, what do you think is the best place for a California destination wedding? Thanks!—Janet O., Clackamas, Oregon
Chicago is not only the most visited city in the Midwest, it’s one of the most dynamic cities on the planet. From its fabulous parks and museums to its world-class dining, shopping, entertainment and hotels, it has everything you (and your guests!) could want—including a long list of amazing wedding and special event venues.
San Francisco is one of the world’s most beautiful cities, which makes it a much sought-after setting for both local and destination weddings. And although it has a reputation for being pricey, there are quite a few affordable venues where you can host your event.
Dear Here Comes The Guide: We are planning a fairly upscale and costly wedding for our daughter. It is a destination wedding for our guests, but more local for the groom side. Therefore, our guests are not as likely to attend as the groom side. Do we have to split the guest list fifty-fifty? My thoughts are that we should have a thirty-seventy, or forty-sixty split. We are paying for the whole thing. What is the norm?
Bridal fairs offer an efficient way to review what’s in the marketplace—you can check out florists and photographers, sample the wares of cake makers and listen to the music of a variety of DJs. See videos of some bridal shows.
You can trust the wedding professionals on Here Comes The Guide. We don’t just let anyone get a listing on our website. We’re choosy. Find out why we’d recommend these wedding vendors to our sisters and friends.
My hands-down honeymoon pick (and I’ve thought about this a lot over the years, so trust me on this one!) is San Diego’s L’Auberge Del Mar. This place has all the amenities of one of those big-name resorts, but with an intimate, boutique hotel feel that I just love.
If you’re like me, you may not want to lift a finger on your honeymoon, except to order room service. The St Regis, Monarch Beach will help honeymooners accomplish just that. It’s the perfect destination for a honeymoon away from it all.
Right across the Coronado bridge is one of the most luxurious island resorts I’ve ever seen—the historic Hotel Del Coronado. This immense, Victorian-style hotel, capped with its iconic red turrets and white balconies, spans Coronado Central Beach.
When asked where my dream honeymoon would be in California I immediately knew the destination, The Carneros Inn in the Napa/Sonoma Valley Wine Country.
There’s something glamorous about getting all dressed up to dine alongside the massive fireplaces of one of these lodges. It’s a delicious counterpoint after an exhausting and exhilarating day of hiking in a magnificent park.
I fantasize about The Willows Historic Inn, a bed and breakfast steeped in the glamour of a bygone era. I’m attracted to the quiet and intimacy of this boutique hideaway that’s walking distance to town but in its own world atop a view-filled bluff.
The Hotel Kabuki is literally a zen compound in the heart of Japantown, San Francisco. The entire hotel was revamped in 2007, revealing a new serene, harmonious aesthetic that is reminiscent of a Japanese teahouse or a meditation garden.
Many of you received a very special gift this recent holiday season, and it’s sparkling on the ring finger of your left hand! If you’re like me, the first thing you wanted to do when he popped the question (after calling your BFF and Mom) was to go window shopping for your wedding dress. Just to look around and see what’s out there. We wholeheartedly encourage that pastime!
Next to playing with my dogs and sharing a chocolate soufflé with my husband, browsing wedding dresses is one of my favorite pastimes. Are you with me on this? I thought so. Then believe me when I say that one of the best ways to indulge your fashion passion is by attending a bridal trunk show.
It was one of the few weekend getaways when I yearned for a lover. Yet even without one I still managed to be seduced—by Eagle Island, a private slice of unspoiled nature and an idyllic honeymoon destination 60 miles south of Savannah, accessible only by boat from sleepy Darien on Georgia’s coast.
1. Work out your budget and establish your top priorities—where to save/where to splurge. 2. Start browsing bridal blogs and magazines to identify your wedding style and color palette.
Four talented cakeries conquer tiers and tears in their efforts to produce the finest confectionary masterpieces that will take center stage at wedding receptions all over the country. From a Chicago wedding cake designed to look like stacked tea cups to a Southern California wedding cake with koi fish sculpted out of frosting, if you can dream it, these cake designers can make it.
The newest addition to WE-TV’s Wedding Sunday is “Girl Meets Gown,” an adorable show that profiles brides of all sizes and budgets shopping for their wedding dresses at Stardust, a Texas bridal salon. My favorite part? The tears of joy that signal, “It’s the one!”
Wedding budgets may be shrinking these days, but the number of tasks on a wedding to-do list never does. This video showcases one of our Certified By The Guide wedding planners, Amber Events, as she works her wedding magic.
Dear Here Comes The Guide: I had a destination wedding. Should I send a thank-you note to those guests that came to the wedding, but did not buy us a gift?
Thanks for your help,—Pauline M., Chicago, IL
Hosting a booth at a bridal fair isn’t just a good way to take a break from the office; it’s also a chance to meet our Guide Brides (and Grooms!) face to face, answer their burning wedding questions and hand out copies of our current Here Comes The Guide books along with our pretty pink bags.
In the name of that all-important wedding budget (and in the tradition of convenient combo products offered all across America!) what about one item that gives you both class and sass in one neat package? The answer is in the wedding transportation.
When the euphoria of the engagement begins to fade, you're struck by a flutter of panic—"I need to plan the wedding!" Bridal fairs are actually the most convenient way to learn about a myriad of event options. Here are some tips of making the most of a bridal fair.
His newest L.A. restaurant reflects the chef’s warm personality and culinary style—traditional Italian cuisine infused with a modern touch.
Leave it to Vera to bring lace into the 21st century, as she does so beautifully with her “Bouquet” wedding dress. Marrying the ethereal fabric to a modern silhouette, she adds a bold fillip to the waistline: A huge bow that is anything but demure. Read on for more details as Vera Wang goes “Behind the Dress.”
While the thought of marriage can be compelling, the headiest and most exciting part of a love story is always the proposal. That instant when you both just know. Whoever does the asking, the sheer thrill of being desired can be positively intoxicating, like the beginning of a new love affair; only this time with the added comfort and security of commitment.
In the first flush of joy after your engagement, you’ll probably begin browsing magazines and wedding websites…and soon feel buried by a blizzard of checklists and a daunting array of decisions. That’s when you and your fiancé might want to think about hiring a professional wedding planner or wedding coordinator.
We’ve got connections—and we’re passing along the benefits to you, dear Guide Brides. Print the PDF below, and you’ll have two free passes to any of the 2012 Festival of Brides, the Upscale Bridal Shows.
You’d think that working from a budget would be obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people, especially brides and grooms, are unrealistic about what they can afford. Part of the problem is that most people aren’t very experienced with event budgeting and don’t know how to estimate what locations, products and services will ultimately cost.
Planning a green wedding? Check out designer Hanna Hartnell as she goes for the green at her eco-friendly bridal salon.
As a recent bride, I’m still addicted to all those fun wedding TV shows I watched during my wedding planning, like David Tutera’s “My Fair Wedding” and even “Bridezillas” (just to keep my own bridal ego in check!). So I’m excited about the new season of “Platinum Weddings,” and want to share this sneak peak with you.
My colleague Jan invites me to spend the upcoming weekend with her at the Ritz-Carlton Marina del Rey, where she’ll be staying while profiling new locations for Here Comes The Guide. I jump at the chance for some quality Ritz time. It’s a well-known fact around the office that I ♥ the Ritzes. (What can I say? I have a soft spot for superior customer service and a swanky setting!)
Wedding designers have taken their cue from the sleek and chic First Lady, Michelle Obama. This year, designers got creative with uniquely beautiful interpretations of that now famous one-shoulder adornment. Here are some of our favorites from both seasons:
Yes, you will save money by hiring the cheapest vendors you can find or doing things yourself. But the old adage, “You get what you pay for,” really comes into play here. Skimp on services and you could end up paying a big price anyway. More info on saving yourself some headaches.
Think about it: rehearsal dinners include a high concentration of people you love who have gathered in your honor. So why not relax and let your hair down? With very little effort, you can assemble a pre-wedding event that provides some much-needed calm before the busy storm of your wedding weekend. Learn how to make the most of your rehearsal dinner.
Your friend is getting married and there’s only one way to celebrate—host a bachelorette party starring martinis and good friends. It’s not only her last night out as a single girl, it’s also a way to quit worrying about that bridesmaid dress you’ll be wearing for the big day. Throw the bride a party and show all your friends a good time to send her off in style!
Recently, I had the opportunity to interview celebrity wedding planner David Tutera at the Langham Huntington Hotel in Pasadena. Even though he’s worked on events with such VIPs as Jennifer Lopez and Vice President Al Gore, I was impressed by his enthusiasm for helping non-famous brides have equally stellar weddings.
These days, brides want wedding flowers that exude an authentic, down-to-earth feeling. Think less showy and much more “real.”
Your wedding invitations are more than just functional; they’re a formal announcement of your intentions. So since you’re going to use the U.S. Post Office to send out your invitations, thank-you notes and sundry other correspondence, why not get creative with it? Thanks to modern technology, you can.
Make it clear that this is your wedding, yet you also want to make your families’ customs a part of your day. If they’re not 100% happy with your choices, don’t sweat it. The important thing is you tried, and they’ll probably come around once they see the awesome party you’ve put together.
My father is Middle Eastern, my mother hails from Louisiana’s Cajun country, and I’m proud to say that both cultures have always been an integral part of who I am. I can make hummus and shrimp gumbo pretty darn well, and I can swear in Arabic and Cajun French if the need arises. We’re also Texans, so that means we all can whip up a mean barbecue, too. When I became engaged to Jon, who has Nordic and German roots, we just sprinkled a few more ingredients into our family’s melting pot.
There’s another annual tradition right around Valentine’s Day besides flowers and chocolate hearts—exclusive celebrity giveaway parties called “gift suites.” At these high-profile events, fashion entrepreneurs and high-end product purveyors lavish entertainment VIPS with bagfuls of goodies. This is where trends are set, styles take off and specialty items are given two thumbs up.
Salty air and beach breezes call for a soft, relaxed wedding hairstyle that looks casual, yet polished. This romantic up-do is a particularly smart choice; what with ocean mist or humid conditions, who wants to struggle to maintain sleek, straight hair?
The planets were aligned when San Francisco residents Chris and Nicole Spence met via online dating in 2004. But the sun and the moon never rose brighter over the verdant Tuscan countryside than when the two said their vows at 500-year-old Villa Buonvisi, a private estate in quaint Lucca, Italy.
There’s nothing like a prop to bring out a woman’s inner diva. Whether vamping it up with a feather boa or flirting coyly with a painted fan, a woman becomes positively magnetic with the addition of just the right accessory. Though a bouquet is a bride’s traditional best friend, daring damsels are reaching for parasols and umbrellas to best set off their feminine charms.
California’s Central Coast, celebrated for its charming wineries and photogenic vineyards, also lures visitors with landmarks like Hearst Castle, and the chance to golf, surf or go horseback riding amidst spectacular natural scenery. If you’re planning a honeymoon or destination wedding in one of the area’s picturesque towns, you might think beyond the winery.
Traditional rehearsal dinner etiquette dictates that the groom’s parents foot the bill because it’s the way for the groom’s mother to show that she knows how to entertain, too. But as more and more couples choose to pay for their own wedding or share the expenses between both families, the bottom line is you get to decide who shoulders the awesome pre-wedding party responsibility. Remember, though, that whoever pays gets the last word on the details!
Whether it’s for your honeymoon, holiday travel or a romantic weekend getaway, these days it pays to pack it all in your carry-on suitcase—and avoid extra charges for checked luggage. The best way to be a breezy bride at the airport is to remember you’re on the vacation of your life…and to “hang loose” when you’re packing. Keep it simple, easy and fun. Follow these five tips, and you’re off to a carefree start.
Monica and Jay met in 1999 when Jay visited California. “At the time, there were no major sparks,” he recalls. But that changed in 2002 when they met at a Boston conference. Monica didn’t recognize Jay with his goatee, but was “checking him out.” When her friend started to introduce them, Jay said, “Monica, you don’t recognize me at all, do you?” She was surprised that this “stranger” knew her name, but soon they were dating.
Are you a free-spirited bride with a yen for vintage elements? Do you dress to please yourself rather than tradition? Do you find romance in the warmth and beauty of nature? If so, your bridal style might be a good match for a bohemian beach wedding!
With all its gold medals and high style, the Central Coast retains its small-town friendliness, and locals have positively thrown out a red-carpet welcome to bridal couples from near and far. Recently we did our own Central Coast Wine Country investigation.
With the holiday season fast approaching, I like to imagine where our company would have the most rocking holiday party ever. Interestingly, I noticed that my shortlist of holiday event venues wasn’t that different from my fantasy wedding one: Classy art galleries, hip restaurants, sun-kissed vineyards… A dynamic setting can make any celebration pop.
I just got engaged and I keep hearing about trunk shows for wedding dresses. What exactly is a “trunk show”? Is it worth going to one?
—Amanda, San Luis Obispo, CA
You don’t have to be ready for Dancing With The Stars to enjoy your first dance together as husband and wife. These simple tips will help you make the most of your spotlight moment.
Besides your location, the food and drink for your wedding bash will probably consume the largest portion of your wedding budget. Catering costs are usually presented as “per-person” charges, sometimes abbreviated in wedding brochures as “pp” after the amount. But be aware—the per-person charge often doesn’t include everything: Tax and gratuities (sometimes called “service charge”) might be extra, and there may also be separate per-person charges for the meal, drinks, hors d’oeuvres, and even setup.
Fola and Alvin had an awkward chance meeting at a conference of medical students in April 2004. Although both had attended Harvard Medical School, they had never met. When they did, Alvin was tired from the conference and could think of little to say—an unusual circumstance for him. Fola informed her conference roommate that she had met “a really rude guy.” The roommate insisted that Alvin was great and arranged another meeting.
Make sure your guests know that the wedding is actually on the sand, so they can dress appropriately. This can be communicated with the invitation (included with the map/directions), on your wedding website and through word-of-mouth.
We don’t have to tell you that planning a wedding is never simple. There are so many grey areas to navigate: Ecru or bright white wedding dress? Buttercream or fondant on the cake? DJ or live band for entertainment? We could go on…
10 Locations Where You Can Tie The Knot On The Sand!
by Jolene Rae Harrington, Director of Creative Content
As a born-and-raised California girl, I knew one thing for sure—when I got married, it would be on the beach. Not next to the beach, not overlooking the beach or on an ocean view terrace, but actually on the sand.
Ordering your invitations over the phone increases the possibility of mistakes, so order in person if possible. If you order your invitations from an online company, make sure your contract states that they will correct mistakes they make for free.
Letterpress, thermography, engraved, matte, jacquard, glassine… ordering invites will mean learning a few new vocabulary words. You’ll also need to learn about all the components that you might want to include in your invitation, as well as what other printed materials could be part of your wedding scenario. With so many details to consider, you’ll depend on a creative wedding invitation professional to clue you in on the jargon, and guide you in choosing invites that reflect your wedding style.
As a wedding guest for four weddings this year, I can tell you two things that strike fear into the heart of the invitee. The first is: what to wear? (What the heck is “Backyard Formal,” I ask you?) The other is: what to give? While wearing the wrong thing says you had a closet crisis, giving the wrong thing says something about your relationship with the bride and groom.
You’ll meet a handful of wedding dress design divas blessed with a magic style wand—your very own fashion fairy godmothers—who are sure to make you the belle of your most-important ball. Read about the San Francisco women behind these amazing wedding dresses.
Francesca and Justin first met at six a.m. at an aquatic center where Justin was a Masters Swim Team coach and Francesca a new swimmer in his class. Francesca felt attracted, but was occupied with studying for her medical exams. Still, they saw each other frequently at Starbucks where she studied and he would “breeze in for tea.
When I’m gown shopping, I find that most of what I like, I don’t LOVE. For example, I like the bodice, but don’t like the fullness, or the skirt is “too trumpet,” etc. What would be really great is to find an affordable custom wedding dress from a reputable designer. Do you have any suggestions in LA or in Orange County? Please let me know!
—Allison G., Los Angeles
Many brides go to their first bridal salon with dreams of finding their fairytale wedding gown—and are soon disappointed. They try on gown after gown that looks beautiful on the hanger, but when they slip into them they just don’t live up to the dream. They know something isn’t quite right but they can’t put their finger on it. If this has happened to you, then perhaps the problem isn’t the style or cut of the gown but the color.
Too often choosing the entertainment is left to the end of your overwhelming “Wedding To Do List”—but it shouldn’t be. Not only does music set the appropriate mood, but a skilled Master or Mistress of Ceremonies will gracefully guide your guests from one spotlight moment to another.
by Drs. Michelle & Patrick Gannon, Marriage Prep 101
Plan the Planning Process First.This is the most important step in our approach to wedding planning. Unfortunately, this is also the step that most couples forget. Remember this: planning a wedding takes time and effort and, like any challenge, the way you meet the challenge requires planning too. Do this step first before you are drowning in the details.
WANTED: A special place for a romantic escape. Scenic, natural surroundings required. Must be lavished with sensual creature comforts. Obliging yet unobtrusive service preferred. Does this imaginary classified ad sound like something you might have written? If so, we’re answering your cry for help with a dozen of the best places in California for a romantic weekend—choice spots bound to inspire relaxation and heartfelt moments. (No need to thank us—an emailed photo of your happy, rejuvenated selves will do!)
Before you can go pick out your invitations, you need to decide how to word them. You have two basic choices—you can conform to the traditional rules of etiquette, or you can select more contemporary options. Either way, it can be a challenge to appropriately express yourself, so I offer some suggestions to help you wade through the ways of wording.
Next to your dress, the cake is probably a wedding’s most important icon. And whether you want a traditional multi-tiered confection, a miniature Statue of Liberty (hey, that’s where he proposed!) or a cupcake tower, your wedding cake should reflect your personality. Use the following questions as a guide when evaluating a potential cake designer.
It’s your wedding day: are you ready for your close-up? If you’re having doubts, you’re not alone. That’s why a professional makeup artist has become an essential part of the modern bride’s entourage. Yet a quiet revolution is changing the way brides prep for the cameras: airbrush makeup.
Is it better to look good than to taste good? Don’t think, just answer. Your response will give you a clue as to where you weigh in on the Great “Fondant versus Buttercream” Controversy, or, as I like to call it, “the Famous Frosting Smackdown.”
Fortunate is the bride who weds in Marin County! Surrounded by water on three sides, Marin is a scenic wonderland whose natural treasures—ancient redwood forests, a dramatic coastline, and a wide range of flora and fauna—make for dynamic celebratory settings. Here are 10 unique wedding locations, each offering a different way to experience Marin’s legendary beauty:
If you’re wondering why we’re including a brief item about recycling it’s because parties and special events often generate recyclable materials and leftover food that the bride and groom don’t want to take home. Nowadays, you and the caterer can feel good by donating the excess, and recycling plastic bottles, glass, metal and paper. An added benefit is that food donations are tax deductible for either you or the caterer. And if you recycle, the cost for extra garbage containers (bins) can be eliminated or reduced.
Nowadays, if someone gets injured at an event or something is damaged at or near the event site, it’s likely that someone will be sued.
In order to protect themselves and spread the risk among all parties involved, facilities have begun to require additional insurance and/or proof of insurance from service professionals and their clients.
The mysterious and the mystical have had the power to hold human beings in thrall throughout the millennia. Celtic jewelry shares this power as an extension and a reminder of the traditions and rituals of the Celts, an ancient European people. Today, men and women of all ages wear Celtic jewelry not only for its beauty, but also for its symbolism and metaphysical connotations.
I rarely go to weddings (maybe it’s because most of my social circle is either already married or never going to be), but a year ago a friend invited me to one.
As my friend’s date I wasn’t obligated to bring a gift, but I’d I’d been told the bride and groom liked to cook, so I got them a few of my favorite kitchen gadgets from Sur La Table as a wedding present. I put my present on a table with dozens of other gifts, and hoped that it wouldn’t get lost in the pile.
Through the front door swooped the lovely staff from Tarpy’s Roadhouse, there to make our dinner. But, more than that, they took care of us. They made us tea, they served us in front of the TV so we could watch Glee and they whipped up fantastic, comforting food: a salad with apples, pecans and gorgonzola, steak and garlic mashed potatoes, Chilean Sea Bass with a mango relish and, finally, strawberry shortcake—yum!!!
You’ve done it—found “the dress.” Now it’s time to pull the rest of your look together. Before you proceed, it is useful to identify which shade of white your dress really is. (This article should help.) Then you can begin to add the finishing touches like jewelry, shoes, and hair accessories.
It’s housekeeping time at Here Comes The Guide! We’ve reorganized our website a bit. If you’ve been reading our blog (thank you!), you’ll now find all our newest stuff over in Find Ideas, our online guidebook of wedding ideas, how-to’s, advice and lists of questions to ask prospective locations and vendors.
I paid $220 for my wedding dress. My colleague Jennifer? Got hers for $125. Since we were both footing the bill for our own weddings, there was precious little in the budget for our gowns (I had to make sure there were enough offerings at the pasta bar to satisfy my Italian relatives!). We both looked lovely, by the way, even without spending 2 two months’ rent on our wedding attire. Here are some of our dress-shopping secrets:
A Moveable Feast promises exactly what its company name implies. This is not your everyday catering company. Don’t believe me? Just 24 hours after returning to the States from my own adventure in Tuscany and Rome, I, along with the rest of the Here Comes The Guide ladies, had the privilege of being treated to Chef Michael’s 5-course culinary adventure (as he so dryly referred to it), along with 12 different appetizers and dessert. (Chocolate and sea salt, anyone?)
Remember Rami Kashou, the runner-up fashion designer in Project Runway Season 4? He was all about “the art of draping,” and occasionally took some flack from the judges for the overuse of his signature style. Well maybe Rami has a future in bridal, because the Goddess of Gown trends, Vera Wang, features draping in one of her romantic 2010 creations, “Dinah.”
My colleague Jan invites me to spend the upcoming weekend with her at the Ritz-Carlton Marina del Rey, where she’ll be staying while profiling new locations for Here Comes The Guide. I jump at the chance for some quality Ritz time.